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Windows 11 releases on October 5th. Given that Windows 10 was already pretty polished when it launched, and only got better over time, why the need for a whole new version? After testing early builds internally, it’s clear that Microsoft isn’t actually trying to fix much with Windows 11. It’s basically a fresh coat of paint on top of Windows 10. But the more we use it, the easier it is to see that small design tweaks can go a long way. Windows 10 was laser-focused on productivity; it aimed to make you as efficient as possible. Windows 11 goes a step further: What if being productive was also pleasant and oddly relaxing? Windows, meet mindfulness.
We’ve put together a list of pros and cons, and things to consider if your PC is capable of upgrading to Windows 11.
- The most polished-looking Windows yet
- Just as fast as Windows 10
- Free upgrade for Windows 10 users
- Stronger security features
- Taskbar and start menu changes take some learning
- Upgrade restrictions on older hardware
- Internet and Microsoft account required for Home setup
First, the spec’s. Not every existing PC running Windows 10 will be able to upgrade. Windows 11 will require Intel 8th Gen Coffee Lake or Zen 2 CPUs and up, TPM 2.0 (Trusted Platform Module) support, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage. That leaves millions of PCs unable to officially upgrade to Windows 11. So what does all of that techno-jargon mean to the layperson? Roughly if your computer is about 4 years old, or newer, you should be capable to upgrade.
The biggest changes with Windows 11 are most notably the look and feel of the operating system, along with some alterations on how the system works under the hood. By default, the Start menu is centered on the screen, along with icons in the taskbar. When clicked on, the Start button opens a menu of frequently used apps. In some ways, it mimics the appearance of a smartphone app menu or launcher. Microsoft has also dropped the “tiles” which were present on Windows 10’s start menu. Across the operating system, the design favours rounded corners and has simplified most menus and folder views. And there are new, improved options for arranging windows and “snapping” them into grids. Widgets, a major selling point of 2007’s Windows Vista, also make a comeback – but instead of “floating” on the screen where the user puts them, they live in a sidebar on the left, and are also linked to Microsoft services.
Some changes are a little deeper – such as the integration of Microsoft Teams right into the OS. For businesses using Teams for meetings, internal chat, and collaboration, you’ll find it easier to get access to your recent chat history, calls, and meetings.